F Heritage History | Story of the Romans by Helene Guerber
Contents 
Front Matter The First Settlers Escape from the Burning City The Clever Trick The Boards Are Eaten The Wolf and the Twins Romulus Builds Rome The Maidens Carried Off Union of Sabines and Romans Death of Romulus Strange Signs of the Romans The Quarrel with Alba The Horatii and Curiatii Tarquin and the Eagle The Roman Youths The King Outwitted The Murder of Tarquin The Ungrateful Children The Mysterious Books Tarquin's Poppies The Oracle of Delphi The Death of Lucretia The Stern Father A Roman Triumph A Roman Triumph (Cont.) Defense of the Bridge The Burnt Hand The Twin Gods The Wrongs of the Poor Fable of the Stomach The Story of Coriolanus The Farmer Hero The New Laws Death of Virginia Plans of a Traitor A School-Teacher Punished Invasion of the Gauls The Sacred Geese Two Heroes of Rome Disaster at Caudine Forks Pyrrhus and His Elephants The Elephants Routed Ancient Ships Regulus and the Snake Hannibal Crosses the Alps The Romans Defeated The Inventor Archimedes The Roman Conquests Destruction of Carthage Roman Amusements The Jewels of Cornelia Death of Tiberius Gracchus Caius Gracchus Jugurtha, King of Numidia The Barbarians The Social War The Flight of Marius The Proscription Lists Sertorius and His Doe Revolt of the Slaves Pompey's Conquests Conspiracy of Catiline Caesar's Conquests Crossing of the Rubicon Battle of Pharsalia The Death of Caesar The Second Triumvirate The Vision of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra The Poisonous Snake The Augustan Age Death of Augustus Varus Avenged Death of Germanicus Tiberius Smothered The Wild Caligula Wicked Wives of Claudius Nero's First Crimes Christians Persecuted Nero's Cruelty Two Short Reigns The Siege of Jerusalem The Buried Cities The Terrible Banquet The Emperor's Tablets The Good Trajan Trajan's Column The Great Wall Hadrian's Death Antoninus Pius The Model Pagan Another Cruel Emperor An Unnatural Son The Senate of Women The Gigantic Emperor Invasion of the Goths Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra A Prophecy Fulfulled First Christian Emperor Roman Empire Divided An Emperor's Penance Sieges of Rome End of the Western Empire

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber




The Maidens Carried Off

As all the robbers, murderers, and runaway slaves of the kingdoms near by had come to settle in Rome, there were soon plenty of men there. Only a few of them, however, had wives, so women were very scarce indeed. The Romans, anxious to secure wives, tried to coax the girls of the neighboring states to marry them; but as they had the reputation of being fierce and lawless, their wooing was all in vain.

Romulus knew that the men would soon leave him if they could not have wives, so he resolved to help them get by a trick what they could not secure by fair means. Sending out trumpeters into all the neighboring towns and villages, he invited the people to come to Rome and see the games which the Romans were going to celebrate in honor of one of their gods.

As these games were wrestling and boxing matches, horse and foot races, and many other tests of strength and skill, all the people were anxious to see them; so they came to Rome in crowds, unarmed and in holiday attire. Whole families came to see the fun, and among the spectators were many of the young women whom the Romans wanted for wives.

Romulus waited until the games were well under way. Then he suddenly gave a signal, and all the young Romans caught up the girls in their arms and carried them off to the houses, in spite of their cries and struggles.

The fathers, brothers, and lovers of the captive maidens would gladly have defended them; but they had come to the games unarmed, and could not strike a blow. As the Romans refused to give up the girls, they rushed home for their weapons, but when they came back, the gates of Rome were closed.

While these men were raging outside the city, the captive maidens had been forced to marry their captors, who now vowed that no one should rob them of their newly won wives, and prepared to resist every attack. Most of the women that had been thus won came from some Sabine villages; and the Romans had easy work to conquer all their enemies until they were called upon to fight the Sabines. The war with them lasted a long time, for neither side was much stronger than the other.

At last, in the third year, the Sabines secured an entrance to the citadel by bribing Tarpeia, the daughter of the gate keeper. This girl was so vain, and so fond of ornaments, that she would have done anything to get some. She therefore promised to open the gates, and let the Sabine warriors enter during the night, if each of them would give her what he wore on his left arm, meaning a broad armlet of gold.

The Sabines promised to give her all she asked, and Tarpeia opened the gates. As the warriors filed past her, she claimed her reward; and each man, scorning her for her meanness, flung the heavy bronze buckler, which he also wore on his left arm, straight at her.

Tarpeia

Tarpeia.


Tarpeia sank to the ground at the first blow, and was crushed to death under the weight of the heavy shields. She fell at the foot of a steep rock, or cliff, which has ever since been known as the Tarpeian Rock. From the top of this cliff, the Romans used to hurl their criminals, so that they might be killed by the fall. In this way many other persons came to die on the spot where the faithless girl had once stood, when she offered to sell the city to the enemy for the sake of a few trinkets.